I can’t believe I’ve reached the last few weeks of summer and posted only posted TWO recipes to this blog. Bad food blogger, bad!
Perhaps I should give myself a bit of lee-way; it’s been a busy and at times difficult summer. Between a stressful job, a house full of much-loved guests, and a spouse with multiple broken bones from a sports injury, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and breathe, let alone focus on blogging (or much of anything else). Only after quitting my job, bidding fond farewell to our wonderful guests, and putting my hubs on the road to recovery has life finally slowed down to an easier pace. Halle-freaking-lujah!
Of course, I’m one of those people that – despite wanting a break for months – has to fill their first waking moment of free time with activity. In this case, I was only 10 minutes into relaxing on the couch with some Investigation Discovery (it’saddictiveAF) before deciding to have a casual peek at my recipe collection. Casual peek quickly transformed into detailed research, which then morphed into a cooking and baking agenda for the next four months (and a shopping list as long as a novel). And so went my rest time; I was on my way to the market before the murder had even been solved. It was nice knowing you, R & R!
All credit for this beautiful salad recipe goes to Cafe Delites, one of my favorite blogs of all time. The garlicky honey mustard dressing is the BOMB.COM – I’m not a mustard fan by any means, yet I devoured this salad in under 5 minutes! It also makes an unbelievably delicious marinade for the chicken – my husband already requested that I make this again soon. It’s a definite keeper – enjoy!
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN, BACON + AVOCADO SALAD
Yields: 4 servings
For the marinade/dressing:
⅓ cup clear honey
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp smooth + mild Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
Salt, to season
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the salad:
¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat
4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
¼ cup corn kernels
Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients (through salt) together to combine. Pour half into a shallow dish, submerge chicken and marinade for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved marinade to use as a dressing.
Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released. Dispose of used marinade.)
Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn and chicken.
Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
We’ve been experiencing uncomfortably high temperatures (and insanely high humidity) for the last several weeks in central Europe, meaning I’ve had no desire whatsoever to turn on my oven and get baking. That doesn’t mean, of course, that my notorious appetite for all things chocolate diminished in the slightest. Far from it! I was into my collection of no-bake dessert recipes within minutes of temps topping 90 degrees last week.
This pie has a very special place in my heart, as it’s been my dad’s favorite for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can scarcely remember a birthday or Father’s Day celebration in my childhood in which it didn’t make a welcome appearance. The filling is rich and creamy, cradled in a delicate chocolate cookie crust and topped with drizzled chocolate sauce and grated dark chocolate. I took it a step further (maybe too far?) on this occasion with the addition of chopped miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A word of warning: this pie is not for the faint of heart … or dieters … or diabetics … but is definitely worth a try if you’ve got a peanut butter lover in your midst!
Note: If you’d like to craft a lower-fat version of this pie, use 1/3-fat cream cheese, reduced or low-fat sweetened condensed milk, reduced fat peanut butter and fat-free Cool Whip. I’ve made both versions and the flavor variations are minimal.
PEANUT BUTTER PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST
Yield | 8 to 10 servings
1 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (approximately 30 crushed cookies)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tbsp finely granulated sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly whipped cream
1 to 2 tsp chocolate syrup, to serve
1 ounce grated dark chocolate, to serve
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, melted chocolate and sugar. Press firmly and evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, blending for 1 minute. On low speed, add lemon juice and vanilla extract, blending until just combined.
Remove bowl from electric mixer and gentle fold in freshly whipped cream. Pour pie filling into the chilled chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. To serve, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate, if desired.
It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!
This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)
And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!
HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD
Yield | 12 servings
For the chili:
2 pounds ground turkey
1 pound hot Italian sausage
4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp white sugar
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve
For the cornbread:
½ cup butter
1 tbsp clear honey
2/3 cup white sugar
2 fresh eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
To make the chili:
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).
To make the cornbread:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Polenta – a dish made of yellow or white cornmeal boiled in water or stock into a thick, solidified porridge – is a popular cooking staple throughout central Europe, particularly northern Italy, France, and Switzerland. While I’d eaten it on a handful of occasions in the United States – usually at an Italian restaurant – I’d never before cooked with polenta until giving this recipe a try. I was pleasantly surprised – its remarkably easy to prepare and can be formed and set into virtually any shape. It doesn’t have a great deal of flavor on its own, but with the addition of a flavorful stock or cheese, polenta is a wonderful base for meat stews, seafood, or vegetables.
This colorful wee tart – recipe courtesy of The View from Great Island – was a huge hit in our household! The tomatoes were delicious – a bit reminiscent of a chunky bruschetta topping – and looked absolutely beautiful arranged atop the bright yellow polenta base. My husband – who usually grumbles his way through anything vegetarian – ate 3/4 of the tart on his own. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is!
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra for garnishing
1 generous pint multicolored cherry tomatoes
1 medium heirloom tomato
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 or 2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
10 large basil leaves, cut in fine ribbons
Bring the water, milk and salt to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot. Slowly add in the polenta, stirring to avoid lumps. Lower the heat and let it cook gently for about 15 minutes. You will have to stir it most of the time. I like to use a silicone spatula. Be careful because the polenta with splatter as it bubbles, and it’s hot.
Take it off the heat and add the butter and the cheese. Mix well. Add some fresh cracked black pepper, and then taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Pour the polenta into a greased 9″ springform pan or tart dish. (Note: I ended up using only 3/4 of the polenta, as I didn’t want my tart to be too thick.) Smooth it out quickly so the top is level. The polenta will begin to set up immediately. Let the polenta cool.
Meanwhile, make the tomato topping. Do this no more than one hour before you want to serve the tart. Slice your cherry tomatoes in half. You can cut the larger ones in wedges, and leave the very tiniest ones whole. Chop the regular sized tomato in small chunks. Put them in a bowl with all the juices and add the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
Let the tomatoes sit at room temperature to allow the juices to flow and mingle for up to an hour. Just before you are ready to put the tart together, chop the basil and add it to the tomatoes. (Note: don’t do this earlier, as the basil may turn dark)
Just before you are ready to serve it, spoon the tomatoes and their juices on top of the polenta. Garnish with any remaining basil leaves and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.
Slice with a sharp knife and serve with more cheese.
Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper in a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth. Serve chilled or warm, with chips (if desired).
While the rest of the country goes back to school, bundles up, and prepares for the onslaught of all things pumpkin, it’s still a million (okay, 90+) degrees here in southern California. Ugh. The thought of turning on my oven this week made me cringe, so I opted for a no-fuss, cool treat instead. Behold the glory of Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream!
The best part of this recipe – originally featured on Pastry Affair, one of the most beautiful food blogs on the Internet – is that it doesn’t require an ice cream maker, or any fancy tools except a hand or standing mixer. It’s also incredibly easy – a great option for those who’d like to make their own ice cream, but are intimidated by the process of cooking crème anglaise. The result is a rich, creamy dessert bursting with blueberry deliciousness. I ate all three cones in this photo, if that’s any indication of its amazing flavor. Make, enjoy, and bring on the Fall!
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook blueberries and granulated sugar until berries burst and release their juices (approximately 5-10 minutes). Add the cornstarch to thicken and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place blueberries in the freezer to cool quickly (approximately 15 minutes).
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add 1/2 cup cream and whip until the cream cheese mixture becomes incorporated. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the rest of the cream and the vanilla extract and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. (this step may also be done with a hand mixer and a healthy dollop of patience!)
In a plastic container, spread half the whipped cream. Top with half the blueberries. Spread the remaining cream and top with the remaining blueberries. Using a knife, swirl the ice cream. Cover and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours. Serve in waffle cones, if desired.
My parents have had quite the bumper crop of raspberries at their home in southwest Washington this year, and my mum and I have been racking our brains for interesting new recipes in which to use them. We have also – inexplicably – been talking about making a clafoutis for years, despite never having tried one. Hundreds of raspberries + irrational clafoutis obsession = raspberry clafoutis!
What the heck is clafoutis, you might ask? Clafoutis (pronounced klah-foo-tee) is a French dessert of stone fruits arranged in a buttered dish and baked in thick, custard-like batter. Originating in the Limousin region of central France, clafoutis is typically made with whole, stoned cherries, but can also be made with other fruits, including plums, pears, or apples. I went a bit rogue with this recipe (adapted from Woman’s Day), using peaches and raspberries instead, which technically makes this dessert a flaugnarde (for all intents and purposes, a non-cherry clafoutis). That said, my mum and I were crushed at the prospect of having our clafoutis dreams dashed, so … we’re calling it a clafoutis. Call it whatever you want, just make it – it’s so yummy!
When I make this again, I’ll double the raspberries and omit the peaches. I LOVE peaches, but very little peach flavor comes through in this recipe (and the raspberries are fantastic!). Otherwise, its delicious served warm as breakfast or dessert – enjoy!
PEACH AND RASPBERRY CLAFOUTIS
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 fresh lemon
1 1/2 lbs fresh yellow peaches
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 vanilla bean
4 large fresh eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar, to serve
Soft whipped cream or ice cream, to serve (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Grease a shallow 2 1/2-quart baking dish with the butter and lightly dust with granulated sugar.
In a medium bowl, finely grate the lemon zest (about 2 teaspoons), then squeeze in 1 tablespoon juice. Add the peaches, raspberries, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and gently toss to combine.
Using a sharp knife, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, spices, 1/2 cup heavy cream, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and vanilla seeds and pulp (discard the pod). Blend on high until slightly frothy, about 1 minute.
Transfer the fruit to the prepared pan along with any juices and pour the batter on top. Bake until just set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Dust the clafoutis with confectioners’ sugar and serve with softly whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
I’ve been quite keen to make this pasta ever since discovering the recipe in the January 2012 edition of Olive magazine. Chorizo, garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs – how can you go wrong?! As a matter of fact, you can’t go wrong with this dish, as it’s quite possibly the easiest and quickest homemade pasta I’ve ever tossed together (literally).
What is pangritata, you may ask? A mixture of breadcrumbs and fresh herbs lightly toasted in olive oil, pangritata (or ‘poor man’s Parmesan) is the ingenious invention of southern Italians eager to add flavor and texture to pasta without the added expense of fine cheeses and other ingredients. In this recipe, pangritata is made from the crumbs of a day-old ciabatta loaf and fresh rosemary, although other hardy, aromatic herbs – including thyme and sage – are also excellent substitutes. Toasted pangritata adds great color and crunch to this hot and flavorful dish, one that goes from fridge to table in less than 20 minutes!
SPAGHETTI WITH CHORIZO + ROSEMARY PANGRITATA
150 grams dried spaghetti
100 grams chorizo, diced
Pinch of red chili flakes
1 fresh garlic clove, finely sliced
150 grams fresh cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While cooking, heat two tablespoons in a pan and add chorizo. Cook over medium-high heat until starting to crisp – approximately 3 to 5 minutes – then add chili flakes, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes just start to burst, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm one tablespoon olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and toast, stirring often, until crisp and golden. Add rosemary and stir through.
Drain the spaghetti and tip into the chorizo pan. Toss together with 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, if desired, then sprinkle with rosemary pangritata to serve.
Full disclosure here: I hate pickles. HATE them. Absolute least favorite food in the world. If the shocked look I receive when mentioning this is any indication, the vast majority of humanity suspects I may be some form of mutant, but I stand firm in my aversion. Inexplicably, however, people love these crunchy, nauseating little things, and as such, I’m bound by culinary duty to share this epic dill pickle recipe with the world. You’re welcome… I guess?
Pickle rant now delivered, this recipe does hold a special place in my heart. The ingredients listed below reflect the original recipe first created by my great-great-grandmother Ada Babcock (born 1875), including her ultra-secret weapon for perfect pickles: grape leaves. The original Baking Goddess – my beloved grandmother Bonnie Jean – was adamant about those grape leaves – leave ’em out, and the whole batch of pickles will be in ruin. My parents happen to have a grape arbor at their home in Washington state, but they can also be found in well-stocked supermarkets or Mediterranean specialty markets.
Note: The ingredients below (with the exception of the cucumbers and those for the brine, which should be adequate to fill approximately 7 tightly packed quart jars of pickles) are listed as per quart-sized jar. In other words, to make a full batch, you’ll need 7 fresh grape leaves, 3 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns, 7 teaspoons mustard seeds, etc.
Makes: 7 quarts
65-70 fresh pickling cucumbers (approximately 3- to 5-inches in length)
1 large fresh grape leaf
1/2 tsp pepper corns
1 tsp mustard seed
2 fresh garlic cloves, halved
1 piece fresh dill umbel
1/4 tsp powdered alum
2 quarts water
1 quart vinegar
2/3 cup rock salt
Wash interior of canning jars (seven in total) with hot water (if re-using, sanitize). Set aside to dry.
Wash cucumbers; set aside. Line interior of each canning jar with one grape leaf, dark green side facing outward. Place 8 or 9 cucumbers in each jar (should be tightly fit), followed by peppercorns, mustard seed, garlic cloves, dill and alum. Each jar should include the full amount of each ingredient listed above.
In a large saucepan or pot, bring brine ingredients to a boil over high heat. Pour boiling brine into each jar until liquid reaches 1 inch from rim. Quickly top and tighten lids. (Note: Lids may make a popping noise at any time over the following several hours as the jars seal internally.) Allow jars to seal and cool for 3 to 4 hours. After cooling, transfer jars to a cool, dark area to pickle for at least 6 weeks.
Blackberry cobbler is – HANDS DOWN – my favourite summer dessert. As soon as I spotted the world’s largest blackberries for sale at my local farmer’s market this week, I knew cobbler was in my near future. I used a recipe that – while in my family for decades – differs from others floating around the Internet these days. It’s actually a recipe for ‘cottage pudding’, featured in the 1918 edition of the AMAZING Fannie Farmer cookbook (if you don’t have one, visit your local bookstore ASAP!!). With the addition of fresh berries, the original Fannie Farmer recipe becomes the BEST cobbler you will ever taste! And by ‘taste’, I mean DEVOUR.
While I divided the recipe into individual serving-size portions, it can just as easily be made in a shallow baking dish. Enjoy!
INDIVIDUAL BLACKBERRY COBBLERS
Makes: 4 servings
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup butter + extra for greasing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Grease four 6-ounce ramekins with butter.
Rinse blackberries and pat dry. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, milk and melted butter. Stir gently into the flour mixture to combine.
Place a layer of blackberries in the bottom of each ramekin. Spoon a layer of batter over the berries, repeating this process until the ramekin is full (I like to add several berries to the top of the final batter layer). Transfer ramekins to a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (cobbler topping should begin to brown lightly at the edges). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.